2017 was a powerful year for YGB. We started the year off with a dynamic performance at the Oscar Grant Vigil, followed by an all hands on deck performance at Nourse Theater. As part of a ceremony and celebration for the end of our Artistic Directors time as the National Program Director for Youth Speaks, YGB performed several of our pieces in front of an audience of about 2800 people. Our entire YGB community attended the event and all groups performed on stage. Hodari was introduced at the event by youth director Ikera Davis, and given flowers. He made a brief speech and made it clear that the future of his work in this area was with YGB.
During Black History Month YGB had over 20 performances including the inaugural kickoff for the Edutainment for Equity Critical Conversations and the start of the Mr Davis Classroom series. YGB went through other transitions as well when leaders of YBK returned to the pursuit of their individual athletic and artistic interests and stopped performing as the Young Black Kings. The remaining members continue to perform with the Sheroes as a unified crew. Additionally, in 2017 we recorded many of the YGB pieces at Zoo Labs as part of an Arts Residency program for the YGB Directors. These high level recordings will be part of the roll out of YGB products later down the line. The residency offered business development training, recording and networking opportunities and a chance for YGB members to experience a professional recording studio.
Another highlight of the year that was a by product of the Zoo Labs residency was meeting and collaborating with the Alphabet Rockers. They use Hip Hop to teacher solidarity, cultural mindfulness and social justice to kids under the age of 8. The Rockers attended several YGB rehearsals and recorded bits of the process for their Grammy Nominated Album Rise Shine Woke. The record begins with words from YGB Director Laroilyn Davis, and includes the voices of the kids throughout. It is a great album and we were honored to be a part of the process.
YGB was officially invited to attend the Emancipation Day Ceremonies in Trinidad and Tobago. Artistic Director Hodari Davis and Operations Director Candice Antique Davis traveled to Trinidad this summer to scout locations, attend the ceremonies and generally provide reconnaissance for the group. For the past 3 international tours we have gone to Ghana, West Africa and visited the historic and significant sites there. This trip will offer YGB a chance to engage with the African diaspora, get a sense of how other people in the Western Hemisphere regard and honor slavery, and experience another iteration of African culture, including visiting pan yards, museums and performing at the Tobago Heritage Festival. We are very excited for our trip to Trinidad in 2018.
YGB continues to meet and rehearse at Oakland School for the Arts. In 2017 we entered a partnership with their Step Up program, which is an outreach program of the school to encourage kids to audition and apply. YGB provided introductory instruction for many of the youth who self selected to participation through Step Up. We were honored to be a part of the process of recruiting these creative kids to attend OSA.
As we dig in to 2018 we are happy to begin this process again, and get started spreading the word about the importance of Black History. We have an exciting year ahead of us. Please continue to support our work.